April 2008


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Here is a picture of a maple tree in New Vrindaban taken circa 1977. This was the yard at the grey house where Srila Prabhupada stayed during his 1974 visit to New Vrindaban. He used to sit under this tree, a maple.

The grey house has since been moved and is now marked by an engraved stone across the road from the end of the Palace wall towards the temple, but it used to be used as the casting shop for the Palace before the utility building was built at Bahulaban. My wife worked there one summer and has this photo of the cast pieces waiting to be installed at the Palace.

Later other trees were planted all around the maple and 25 years later they have grown in on the maple like the fir tree in this picture:

I harvested this fir to get some sunlight and air into the maple as I feel it is historical. I also trimmed up the branches on a larger fir that was right along the state road so light can get into it from the east.

One of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples was a landscape architect named Sivananda Sena. When he advised on the plantings by the lake, he drew in three sight lines that were supposed to be open from the state road looking down towards the lake area. After opening up around the maple, I saw that by harvesting a few pines below the devotee built brick road a sight line was opened up to the large Gaur Nitai statues.

So now you can look down at a tree SP sat under and past to Gaur Nitai as you drive or walk by on the state road.

It also opened it up so you can see the dogwood shown in the lower right of the picture. Next to the dogwood below the maple tree branches is an ash tree that volunteered. Eventually it will obscure the view but that will be several years and when it does I will harvest that also.

Soma alerted me to the demise of one of the catfish living in the Swan Boat Lake.

This was a 30″ long catfish. I have seen them 36″ and larger (like 1 meter). When Soma saw it baby snapping turtles were eating away at it, but I missed that nectar. When I went back later it was gone, either eaten completely or removed by some considerate devotee concerned about guests who don’t appreciate morbid things.

“The example given here is that water is a very nice place for a fish, but the fish is never free from anxiety about death, since big fish are always eager to eat the small fish. phalgüni tatra mahatäm: all living entities are eaten by bigger living entities. This is the way of material nature.

“ahastäni sahastänäm
apadäni catuñ-padäm
phalgüni tatra mahatäà
jévo jévasya jévanam

” ‘Those who are devoid of hands are prey for those who have hands; those devoid of legs are prey for the four-legged. The weak are the subsistence of the strong, and the general rule holds that one living being is food for another.’ (SB 1.13.47)

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead has created the material world in such a way that one living entity is food for another. Thus there is a struggle for existence, but although we speak of survival of the fittest, no one can escape death without becoming a devotee of the Lord. Harim vina naiva srtim taranti: one cannot escape the cycle of birth and death without becoming a devotee. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (9.3). Aprapya mam nivartante mrtyu-samsara-vartmani. One who does not attain shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna must certainly wander up and down within the cycle of birth and death.”

SB 9.13.10

Anyway, don’t worry, there are plenty more fish in the lake.

If you were to take a loaf of bread to the chatra by the lake and rip small pieces to drop into the water, you will almost immediately see hundreds of bluegills snapping it up. If you pay attention, you will occasionally see a bass swim up also, and sometimes the catfish come by.

On Sundays at the day old bread place in Wheeling, you can get a bag of about 6-8 loaves of bread for $1. Last Sunday Vidya and I, with the help of a small boy visiting with his parents, fed the whole thing to the fish. It did take that many loaves before they were all satisfied. A cheap and fascinating thing to do.

I had a granola bar that I bought that when I read the ingredients had eggs in it and I tried to feed them that, but they spit it out. Either it was too hard to suck in or they were devotee fish and don’t eat eggs.

“It can’t happen here.” Zappa

Run on rice makes its way to U.S.

“The global run on food that has led to shortages and riots in Egypt, Haiti and other nations has made its way to U.S. shores.

“Concerned about rising prices and limited supplies of staples such as rice and flour, customers across the country have been cleaning out the shelves at big-box retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Sam’s Club and Costco Wholesale Corp. stores…

“This week, Costco said it had seen sales of flour, rice and some cooking oils leap. Some Costco stores already have held customers to just two bags of rice a day, but the chain doesn’t plan to limit sales nationwide.

“By midafternoon Wednesday, the Costco in Alhambra — which had not placed limits on purchases — said it had run out of rice.

“Prices for many foods, including beer, bread, coffee, pizza and rice, are rising rapidly as the nation contends with its worst bout of food inflation since 1990. The cost of groceries is climbing at an annual rate of about 5% this year.

“Retail experts said there was little evidence of “panic” hoarding by the public. It appears that restaurants and smaller retailers have been buying up most of the stock on the expectation that prices will continue to rise.

“Still, shoppers’ actions have taken some stores by surprise.

” ‘It is like a run on the bank. We don’t think there is a shortage, it is just increased shopping by customers who think there is,’ said Richard Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer. For now, the retailer is allowing managers of stores with short supplies to set their own rules…

“Internationally, shortages of basic commodities — including rice, wheat and some oils — have led to protests and riots in recent months, prompting concern about food security in many poor countries.

“Runs on staples such as rice have consequences for the larger economy by adding to inflation and making it harder for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates to ease problems in the financial and housing markets, said Milton Ezrati, an economist at investment firm Lord, Abbett & Co. in Jersey City, N.J…

“Since the fall, large producers such as Vietnam, India and Egypt have banned or limited rice exports to keep a lid on domestic food prices. China, another major producer, has taxed rice exports.

“But there is no dearth of rice in the United States. The Department of Agriculture projects U.S. rice supplies this year will be 8.3 million tons, nearly unchanged for the last seven years. Because Americans consume just 10% to 15% of what people in Asia’s big rice-eating nations eat, there’s plenty for domestic use, said Nathan Childs, a USDA market analyst. Rice consumption in the U.S. is so low that as much as half of the domestic crop is exported.

“Most rice is eaten within 100 miles of where it is grown. Just 8% of world production actually trades internationally, Childs said. So these new export limits and taxes have had an outsize effect on prices, he said…”

(Unabridged article)

See also:

The silent tsunami

Apr 17th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Food prices are causing misery and strife around the world. Radical solutions are needed

“All these yogis are faithfully engaged in different types of sacrifice and are seeking a higher status of life. Krsna consciousness, however, is different from these because it is the direct service of the Supreme Lord. Krsna consciousness cannot be attained by any one of the above-mentioned types of sacrifice but can be attained only by the mercy of the Lord and His bona fide devotees. Therefore, Krsna consciousness is transcendental.”

Bg 4.28

“The parable of the Good Samaritan is a revelation of God in a word that has great importance through all the Scriptures from beginning to the end. It is a revelation of what the prophet Hosea says, speaking for the invisible God, “I will have mercy and not sacrifices.” What is this mercy which we find spoken everywhere in the Scriptures, and especially in the Psalms? The Vulgate rings with misericordia as though with a deep church bell. Mercy is the “burden” or the “bourdon,” it is the brass bell and under-song of the whole Bible. But the Hebrew word -chesed- which we render as mercy, misericordia, says more still than mercy.

“Chesed (mercy) is also fidelity, it is also strength. It is the faithful, the indefectible mercy of God. It is ultimate and unfailing because it is the power that binds one person to another, in a covenant of wills. It is the power that binds us to God because He has promised us mercy and will never fail in His promise. For He cannot fail. It is the power and the mercy which are most characteristic of Him, which come nearer to the mystery into which we enter when all concepts darken and evade us.”

Thomas Merton. Seasons of Celebration. (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950): 175.

Went with Soma over to a sweat lodge lead by Yoga Dave. We brought Adi Guru and Bhakta Chris along and he blogged about the experience here.

Bhakta Rasa (initiated name) was there whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years or longer. We went through some intense adventures together back in the day so it was nice to see him again and catch up.

After his NV experiences, he went back to school and got a Master’s degree in Social Work. His first job out of school was leading 21 day expeditions into the forest in Oregon. After a series of jobs working with at risk kids in a wilderness setting, he has started his own business Potomoc Pathways working with troubled youth.

He also uses sweat lodges as a tool in his work so we had two lodge leaders in the lodge, both of whom are devotees. Prayers varied between traditional Lakota (Sioux) language prayers to the Nrsimhadev prayers in Sanskrit.

The picture is Bhakta Rasa drumming before we went into the lodge waiting for the stones to heat up. He went from Native American songs to Jaya Radha Madhava and back. The guy on the right is Leigh, a frequent visitor to NV especially back in the interfaith period.

If the red slayer think he slays,
……Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
…… I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
…… Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
…… And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
…… When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
…… I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
…… And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
…… Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

First read Sankirtan’s article about Master of Camoflauge to see why this photo immediately came to my mind:

“Desk deception: What appears to be a pile of papers is in fact a hunched figure.”

See more at:

Spot the ‘invisible’ men and women in artist’s amazing photographs

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